There are certain nutrients that are vital to the health and well-being of your growing child. Here’s what you should know about DHA.
What is DHA?
DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the two major long chain omega-3 fatty acids that occur throughout the body (the other long chain acid being EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid). The DHA is a major structural fat in the brain and the retina. To set context, there are two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids: omega-3s and the short-chain omega-6 linoleic acids, found in seeds, nuts and certain oils. The body needs both, but most people today consume more almost 10 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, when they should be consuming more of the latter.
How does it help?
Primarily for healthy brain development, children need DHA. When the four critical areas of a kid’s brain (intellectual, motor, emotional and communication) are properly stimulated and nourished, they can achieve so much more.
Sources of DHA
The best sources of DHA include fatty Coldwater fish, such as salmon, Bluefin tuna, black cod, sardines, and herring. DHA can also be found in shellfish and organ meats. Smaller fishes that lie lower on the food chain are considered to be the safest sources, as they contain fewer toxins. These sources include catfish, shrimp, wild salmon, Pollack and tuna (canned chunk light tuna has three times less mercury than albacore tuna)
Since its easier to derive omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils, we can get DHA through supplements. Ask your pediatrician if a supplement would be right for your child’s nutrition.
The human body produces only a small amount to DHA on its own, which makes food sources and supplements necessary. Women who are pregnant or hope to conceive soon should avoid higher chain seafood such as shark, swordfish etc. as they have a higher content of mercury as compared to other fish.Fish is sometimes also called as brain food, because it is the prime source of DHA and contributes heavily in healthy brain development